Your Guide to Dog Training Methods

Though there are seemingly hundreds of different canine training methods available these days, the truth is that no matter what the marketing gurus call them, all dog training methods fall into one of three camps: aversive, positive reward based, or an aversive and positive-reward based training combination.

Aversive Training

At least in America, thankfully, it seems that aversive training is declining in popularity. There are two types of aversive training, both of which use coercion, positive punishment and negative reinforcement. The first is giving the dog something unpleasant when he does the unwanted behavior. Some examples of positive punishment is using a shock collar to train a dog not to bark. Until he quits barking, the punishment will not stop.

Negative reinforcement, meanwhile, teaches the dog what to do by not giving the dog an unpleasant reinforcement when she performs the desired behavior. Pushing down on your dog’s rump until she sits is using negative reinforcement to train your dog to sit.

Reward Based

Widely used in the U.S. these days, this method of training requires that the trainer knows what the dog really likes. Then by giving or taking away the treats that the dog really wants, you teach the dog which behaviors are desired and those which are not. The giving of treats is positive reinforcement, while negative punishment is the taking away of treats.

Combined Aversive and Positive-Reward Based Training

This type of training is widely used all around the globe. And, at first blush, using a little of everything seems to make a lot of sense. However, the truth is that most dogs never need to be truly disciplined as positive punishment provides, so for the most part this form of training is not needed. Instead, it is better to ignore unwanted behaviors and then replacing them with desired behaviors rather than overtly punishing your dog.

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